Highly aggressive women in a forensic psychiatric hospital

Niels C. Beck, Joseph H. Hammer, Sharon Robbins, Tara Tubbesing, Anthony Menditto, Alicia Pardee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In this study, we compared three groups of women admitted to a public forensic inpatient facility over the course of a two-year period. Detailed and systematic examination of social and psychiatric histories revealed that the group with the most persistent levels of aggression differed from the other two groups with respect to frequency of self-harming behavior, intellectual impairment, hypothyroidism, a childhood diagnosis of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and age of onset of psychiatric and behavioral symptoms. The high-aggression group also had the highest rate of childhood physical and sexual abuse, but the difference between that group and the two lower aggression groups did not achieve statistical significance. From the standpoint of childhood adversity, 94 percent of those in the high-aggression group had been placed outside of the original home by age 11. Eighty-nine percent were intellectually impaired. At admission, physical examinations revealed that 50 percent had a history of hypothyroidism and two-thirds were obese. Before admission, most had manifested severe aggression and emotional dysregulation, as evinced by high levels of self-harm, suicide attempts, and aggressive behavior in previous institutional settings that was both frequent and intense. Patients who share these characteristics are currently placed on a ward at the hospital with a milieu and individual therapy programs that are based on a dialectical behavior therapy approach that targets key symptoms of emotional and behavioral dysregulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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